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Racist messages found at Air Force Academy Preparatory School

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Replies to: Racist messages found at Air Force Academy Preparatory School

  • simba9simba9 3263 replies20 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    Kids that age make stupid decisions. The people who wrote the stuff on the whiteboards could easily have been friends of the victims, and who didn't realize they were going overboard. When I was in the Air Force, we had pretty much every ethnicity and race represented in the squadron, and everyone cracked jokes that would have been considered extremely racist if you described the situation to someone who wasn't there. If a white guy said something lewd and racist about blacks, then a black guy would say something lewd and racist about whites. Then everyone would laugh. We all knew each other well enough to understand these were jokes, and nobody was spared.

    I'm not saying my interpretation is definitely correct, but I'm not going to jump to a conclusion that the people who wrote the messages on the whiteboards were akin to the KKK. As I mentioned before, we don't know who did this yet, and you have to keep in mind that sometimes these incidents turn out to be staged by the supposed victims.

    No matter what the motivation, whoever did it will get kicked out, not least because the incident made the Air Force Academy look bad.

    I'm just wondering if the people who are criticizing my viewpoint ever served in the military, and know firsthand what the social environment there is like? The military isn't composed of choirboys or chivalrous knights.
    edited October 2017
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  • simba9simba9 3263 replies20 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    I'm astounded that *anyone* from our military forces (as simba9 says he is/was)
    would make excuses for racists,
    That's because you haven't been in the military. I'm more trying to explain what might be going on, than making excuses. Have you ever been in the locker room of a men's sports team? Until it's found out who did it, nobody really knows what the motivation for the messages was. While it looks bad, a message like that on a whiteboard doesn't convince me that the person who wrote it is genuinely racist.
    This takes planning and forethought
    No it doesn't. It could easily be a spur of the moment decision. It's not hard to write on a whiteboard.

    If a guy makes a lewd and sexist joke about women, does that mean he hates women and should be viewed as a threat? Does getting drunk once mean you're an alcoholic. If you tip over a garbage can, does that indicate you're a hardened criminal?
    edited October 2017
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  • sciencenerdsciencenerd 1555 replies236 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @simba9 -Why are you providing excuses for the culprits? It seems pretty clear exactly the message they wanted to get across and it is NOT ok.

    I'm not sure when you served but that language and any language against anyone based on race is NOT ok either. Maybe it was "acceptable" before, but it is not now. (However, I am not sure if this is enforced as it should be.)
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12883 replies242 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'm assuming military culture changes as the decades go by and there is better training and leadership with regard to people who do not fit the white-straight-guy norm.

    I'd hope someone who served 10-20-30 years ago would find differences today.

    This wasn't banter, locker room or otherwise. It was targeted to ONLY black cadets and it was a direct command - "go home". Not just a slur.
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  • simba9simba9 3263 replies20 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    I'm not sure when you served but that language and any language against anyone based on race is NOT ok either. Maybe it was "acceptable" before, but it is not now. (However, I am not sure if this is enforced as it should be.)
    It depends on the context. Friends of different races ragging on each other about race or ethnicity is fine, so long as they realize nothing being said is serious. I had a friend in the military, who was Native American, tell me he would, "slap the white off my face." I don't remember what the conversation was about, but I remember that particular insult because it was so weird and I couldn't stop laughing. That's very typical of the kinds of things you'd hear people say to each other in the military, and it went on all the time. People who think otherwise simply don't understand how guys in their late teens and early twenties, and who in the the military, talk to each other.

    I can easily imagine someone jokingly telling a black friend, "Go home n*****." and everyone laughing. The problem with an insult on a whiteboard is that you can't tell if it was a genuine threat or a joke. And I still wouldn't be surprised to learn that the supposed targets of the insult were the ones who wrote it on the whiteboards. That kind of thing has happened before. People who are absolutely convinced that this was a threat are jumping the gun.

    I was in the Air Force in the late 70s-early 80s, but I'm not buying into the idea that what was acceptable to say then isn't acceptable now. It's just that people have become absurdly hypersensitive about it.
    edited October 2017
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78265 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    simba9 wrote:
    It depends on the context. Friends of different races ragging on each other about race or ethnicity is fine, so long as they realize nothing being said is serious [...]

    The problem with an insult on a whiteboard is that you can't tell if it was a genuine threat or a joke.

    Friends telling ethnic jokes to each other happens in non-military contexts as well. Although it is often the case that people tell ethnic jokes about their own ethnicity's stereotypes more than others.

    However, most people know that telling such ethnic jokes outside of friends they know well can easily be misinterpreted in a bad way (especially when written where they can be photographed and blasted all over the place on social media), so they do not do that. Also, anonymously-written "go home [ethnic insult]", particularly with lack of any context, is unlikely to be seen as just a joke.
    edited October 2017
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  • 1Dreamer1Dreamer 532 replies3 threadsRegistered User Member
    That's very typical of the kinds of things you'd hear people say to each other in the military, and it went on all the time. People who think otherwise simply don't understand how guys in their late teens and early twenties, and who in the military, talk to each other.
    Somebody needs to educate Lt. Gen. Silveria on how typical and acceptable this is in the military, because apparently he simply doesn’t understand either. Someone should also explain that he’s jumping the gun by assuming this was a threat.
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  • sciencenerdsciencenerd 1555 replies236 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    People who are absolutely convinced that this was a threat are jumping the gun.

    I was in the Air Force in the late 70s-early 80s, but I'm not buying into the idea that what was acceptable to say then isn't acceptable now. It's just that people have become absurdly hypersensitive about it.

    @simba9

    In the absence of information indicating that this was a joke how else should this be treated? Should we tell the cadets "Get over this. You're being too sensitive."?

    You said you had served in the late 70s. What makes you think what was ok then is ok now? Has the country not changed since then?

    Also, what if this is a threat? What do you think should be done then?
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  • simba9simba9 3263 replies20 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    In the absence of information indicating that this was a joke how else should this be treated?
    Reserve judgement. There was no indication that it wasn't a joke gone wrong, either. I'm reminded about how people jumped the gun in the Duke lacrosse and Virginia fraternity rape accusations. Last year you had the two girls at SUNY-Albany claim they were assaulted on a bus due to their race, and then it turned out to be false.
    Somebody needs to educate Lt. Gen. Silveria on how typical and acceptable this is in the military, because apparently he simply doesn’t understand either.
    Once this became public, he had to say that for public consumption.
    You said you had served in the late 70s. What makes you think what was ok then is ok now? Has the country not changed since then?
    What's changed is that people have become hypersensitive, and everything is over-interpreted to the extreme. Kids get suspended from school for pointing their hand like it's a gun. I hate using the term "snowflake", but that's what lots of people have become.
    edited October 2017
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  • sciencenerdsciencenerd 1555 replies236 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What you call hypersensitivity I call progress.

    I for one am glad that we as a country do not tolerate this kind of behavior.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41891 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For the record, even in the 70s the n- word was totally unacceptable, and for many people well before that.
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  • IfYouOnlyKnewIfYouOnlyKnew 404 replies1 threadsRegistered User Member
    Given the history of the military (not singling out a branch) and AA's, its entirely possible that they never enjoyed the bantering, but did not feel empowered to act on it. While I'm sure there are/were one or two AA's who were comfortable allowing other people to call them whatever (if we are using the it's fun banter between friends excuse), I would never assume all were. I'd be inclined to believe most weren't, but again did not feel they were in a position to say anything. Personal experience from AA family members who served in the military in the 60's and 70's (including Air Force) is quite different from what you are saying. They do not describe a racially harmonious environment with funny jokes. I am glad that in 2017, there are things that will not be tolerated.

    For the record, I agree we should wait to see who did it and the intent. However, I'm not willing to ever be an apologist for this type of behavior. It is dangerous and divisive... it is most certainly not a prank.
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  • mathmommathmom 32381 replies159 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I'm one who thinks that being drunk tends to reveals your true self. I don't know anyone who would do this drunk or sober.

    I get that in the context of bantering people may push boundaries, but IMO this is different. And the only way to stop it is to nip it in the bud.
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